My nostalgia for turn of the millenium Legendary Creatures continue as I submit my second EDH General from this time period, Hanna, Ship’s Navigator. I have had a Japanese version of Hanna sitting in my trade binder since the year 2000 and plan on seeking an artistic specialist to have this card altered. Unless of course, Wizards of the Coast™ find it in their good hearts to reprint Hanna with a modern border and new artwork (Preferrably Terese Nielsen’s artwork, pictured on the right).
I originally considered Hanna when I first dove back into playing Magic and was introduced to Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH). However, I went in a different direction and instead of being my first EDH deck, Hanna ends up being my 6th. This navigational goodness almost did not get her chance as I crashed and burned with a failed Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer stax-like build before my light bulb hit it’s 100 watt potential.
Once I decided to let Hanna, Ship’s Navigator become the commander of my newest U/W adventure, I wracked my brain for almost an entire year to create a successful decklist. Sure, there are quite a few Hanna builds, but for those of you that are familiar with my EDH decks, you know that I needed to build something different and unique. I won’t go into further detail about the failures of our Skyship Weatherlight engineer in previous versions, but will instead jump to the most recent revision and the decklist we have before us today.
Hanna, Pillow Fort Combo Navigator
CHANGE LOG – Currently Playtesting
Hanna, Ship’s Navigator EDH Primer
Why Hanna, Ship’s Navigator?
Although this EDH deck is centered around Iron Maiden and Blue/White Pillow Fort and Combo, Hanna is the most important part of our deck. You will not find Hanna tapped and attacking, but she may occasionally be used as a chump blocker. As evidenced by her flavor text, “I never thought I’d spend my life fighting. I’m a maker, not a destroyer.”, her main purpose is to rebuild and reuse our artifacts and enchantments. With our key combo or win conditions being artifacts (Iron Maiden, Temple Bell, or Psychosis Crawler) Hanna gives us multiple chances to get them into play if they are sitting in our graveyard.
Win Conditions for Combo Deck
Primary Win Condition
- Iron Maiden ?? Excellent!
Combo Win Conditions
Alternate Win Conditions
- Psychosis Crawler + Drawing Cards, lots of cards. 🙂
- Master Transmuter into Blightsteel Colossus
- Luminarch Ascension + Pillow Fort
- Azor’s Elocutors + Pillow Fort/Bounce/Stall
Death By Iron Maiden
Put them in the Iron Maiden…
Iron Maiden?! Excellent!
Iron Maiden + Draw effects like (Prosperity), Bounce Effects (like Sunder) and stall tactics (such as Static Orb) are all designed to keep our opponent’s hands chalk full of cards, receiving Maiden damage, and limiting their spell playing ability.
Double Down. In ideal situations, we like to use either Sculpting Steel or Phyrexian Metamorph to copy Iron Maiden and increase the damage taken each turn by our opponents. However, there are several other artifacts in our Hanna deck that may also warrant a copy and their uses are determined from game to game.
Let’s dig in a little deeper and see exactly how we use Iron Maiden as our primary win condition at the kitchen table.
Slow the Game Down
I realize that some players will balk at believing Stasis, Winter Orb, or Static Orb can be fun, hey, we don’t plan on them being out there forever. The purpose of our prison-like effects is to give us time to get our win conditions in place, prevent our opponents from entering phase 3 of their decks and making sure that everyone has full hands so Iron Maiden can begin to suffocate their life total. Currently Stasis is not in the decklist as I am playtesting a few other cards. In addition to the before-mentioned we have a few other stall tactics disguised as PIA plays. The grand-pappy of Stax, Smokestack, graces our Hanna deck with its presence. Smokestack helps keep our opponents progress in check but also allow us a sacrifice outlet to seal a win with Aura Thief or Academy Rector. Currently in playtest mode is Overburden. Overburden is not a powerful stall tactic, but. in the past, it has provided a grumble from my buddies aggro decks and serves some purpose of trying to keep everyone’s hands full.
Mass Bounce to Impale Life Totals
With Iron Maiden in play, or better yet, with Iron Maiden and a Copy of Iron Maiden, it is time to impale our opponents with a blast of mass bounce. With this Hanna, Ship’s Navigator Commander deck Cyclonic Rift is the best of the best for returning permanents to owners hands. An overloaded Rift could easily seal the fate of our opponents that have already lost a chunk of their life total throughout the game. Blue mass removal continues in the form of bouncing all creatures with Evacuation. Aggro armies take the brunt of Maiden damage with this spell while tokens meet a misfortunate demise. A little on the dirty side is Sunder which bounces all lands to their owners hand. It is almost a rule to have the AC/DC song “Thunderstruck” playing in your head when casting this spell… in fact, I highly encourage you to begin singing it out loud when casting, replacing “Thunder!” with “Sunder!” Yep, Good times. Sunder is instrumental not only in dealing a ton of Maiden damage and keeping hands full, but also to prevent our opponents from being able to pay the combat tax provided by cards such as Ghostly Prison. This allows us to get our Filibuster win with Azor’s Elocutor’s or continue to notch our planeswalkers towards their ultimates. Our final mass bounce spell, and my least favorite, is Devastation Tide. Tide returns all permanents (including ours) to owners hands. We currently run D.T. as a pseudo-sweeper and my belief that a 4th mass-bounce spell is required for this deck.
Fill Their Hands – Draw Some Cards
Our Hanna, Ship’s Navigator Commander Deck can send mixed signals to our opponents that we are here for a group hug deck. “Group Hug” is an EDH archeotype that is designed to supply benefits to our opponents, the most popular form is allowing everyone to draw cards. However, in our deck, we want everyone to keep a full grip so we can start plucking 3 points per turn from 7 card hands. Although they can be used in the early game to help us dig for cards we need, Minds Aglow and Prosperity can also finish a game if we can dump enough mana into the that allows Iron Maiden to have its guitar solo. More on these teo draw spells in a bit.
In my playgroup, we all like to draw cards. Howling Mine, Jace Beleren, Temple Bell, and Otherworld Atlas are like sharing a six pack of frosty brews and offers the olive branch of card advantage. Standstill is looked at with some scrutiny as the realization that one of us will be left out at the three card bonus. This is one of our favorite cards to recur with Hanna’s ability and cast several turns throughout the game.
Psychosis Crawler and I Draw Cards Together
Enter our win condition from a previous version, Psychosis Crawler. At first our opponents will be content with giving up a point or two to Psychosis Crawler while we are enjoying extra cards, but the grill might start to heat up a bit if we get an extra copy of Crawler or already have Maiden in play.
So, lets look at the draw effects that may cause mutiny on The Weatherlight and make Hanna walk the plank. Rhystic Study will begin to annoy our friends right away as we ask after ever spell, “can I draw a card? Time Reversal gives everyone a full grip of seven new cards shuffles away graveyard threats and can tack on 7 damage to each opponent with Psychosis Crawler in play. Memory Jar provides another draw 7 effect that should usually work out to our advantage, serve another 7 damage if Crawler is out and is recurable with Hanna. Then there is the middle child of the Beleren family, Jace, Memory Adept. I shunned away from running little Jace & Jace M.A. for a long time, but, I can’t quit staring at Jace, Memory Adept’s Ultimate: Any number of target players draw 20 cards. With Crawler and Maiden both in play each opponent will have received 40 points of damage by the time they reach their next upkeep.
Alternate Win Conditions
Enchanted Evening is currently one of my favorite enchantments in the deck. With this in play and at least 7 cards already in our graveyard, the casting of Cleansing Meditation will wipe the board clear of all permanents (including lands) and then return all of our permanents to the battlefield.
Enchanted Evening also provides a win combo with Aura Thief. We can use Claws of Gix to sacrifice Aura Thief with Enchanted Evening in play to gain control of all permanents on the battlefield (including lands).
Although it’s not a win condition, Enchanted Evening + Serra’s Sanctum has been a bubbling source of white mana. This small combo has fueled an astonishing amount of card draw in our draw spells and relied upon when we are utilizing the torture of a Static Orb.
Combo Out and Empty Their Library
An extremely simple combo that usually translates to “I Win” is Mind Over Matter + Temple Bell. The combo is simple. Tap Temple Bell, everyone draws a card. Discard a card to Mind Over Matter, untap Temple Bell. Rinse, Repeat. To keep from decking ourselves we have Blightsteel Colossus that can be shuffled back into our library. Both pieces of this combo win can be searched with in a variety of different ways, but the most menacing is usually Academy Rector. If we are sitting on the board with Rector & Temple Bell, we usually get left alone until they can answer our threat.
However, we don’t necessarily have to combo out with Temple Bell-Mind Over Matter. If we have Iron Maiden in play, we can let our opponents draw about 40 cards, pass turn, and watch the Maiden squeeze their eyeballs out during their upkeep. I have recently included Otherworld Atlas as a second Temple Bell effect and as another card drawing resource if Solitary Confinement is in play.
Win By Poison
This win condition is a little trickier to set up. The plan is to have Master Transmuter on the Battlefield at the end of our opponent’s turn use her ability to bounce a cheap artifact (such as Ancient Den or Claws of Gix) back to our hand and put Blightsteel Colossus onto the battlefield. On our turn, we find an opponent that cannot block and swing for 11 Poison Counters.
Although it is not necessary, I like having Nevinyral’s Disk on the battlefield prior to the Master Transmuter into Blightsteel Colossus trick. This helps clear the path for Blightsteel to begin taking out opponents and the Disk can be brought back to our hand using our general, Hanna, Ship’s Navigator.
Win by Pillow Fort
Hanna, Pillow Fort Combo Navigator has a myriad of obstacles designed to create a “pillow fort”. In Magic the Gathering ™, a Pillow Fort is a deck archetype designed to prevent or discourage an opponent from attacking you. Hanna uses Enchantments such as Propaganda, Ghostly Prison, Solitary Confinement and Sphere of Safety to protect us from attacks while we set up our win condition(s). By setting up our Pillow Fort defenses, we can concentrate on gathering the other pieces of our combos or win conditions without taking damage or being put on a clock.
Our most unique Pillow Fort Win Condition is to pull off a Filibuster using Azor’s Elocutors. To do this, we must not receive any damage for 5 turns or lose Elocutors to removal. Impossible? Nope. As of this article I have pulled it off twice. The easiest way to do this is protection with Solitary Confinement and slowing the board down with Static Orb or Sunder. Having Forbid or Force of Will in our back pocket helps increase our Filibuster success percentage.
Pillow Fort can also allow us to build an army of angels with Luminarch Ascension. Once we have solidified our defenses, Luminarch Ascension can quickly gain the four required counters and then we can begin spending our mana at end of our opponents turns to create our 4/4 angelic warriors.
Pillow Fort can also help us get Tamiyo, the Moon Sage to her ultimate and receive an emblem. Tamiyo’s emblem assists our other avenues of victory or can become a win condition all by itself.
Win Condition Support Cards
Tutor & Search
Getting Hanna to combo-off, protect herself, or set up Iron Maiden and other win conditions requires as many tutors in blue/white that we can muster. We are able to tutor for instants and/or sorceries by using Mystical Tutor or Merchant Scroll. While putting our win condition in place, it is nice to be able to tutor for a counterspell to protect our hard work or for a mass-bounce spell to power our Iron Maiden and/or slow down the board state. Cards like Enlightened Tutor, Idyllic Tutor, and Fabricate allow us to retrieve an artifact and/or enchantment from our library. We will commonly need to seek out enchantments like Mind Over Matter or Enchanted Evening to complete our win condition or one of our pillow fort enchantments to protect ourselves. Iron Maiden and Temple Bell are the most commonly targeted artifacts via tutor, but on occasion mana rocks and “orb-like” effects are also sought after. For land tutoring we have included Expedition Map to search for a utility land like Reliquary Tower or Serra’s Sanctum.
In the creature department Trinket Mage performs his purpose in life by retrieving our Claws of Gix, Sol Ring or our artifact lands while Academy Rector is the biggest rattlesnake at all time with a threat of cheating our win condition directly onto the battlefield from our library. Sensei’s Divining Top is an all-star at library manipulation, provides an easy target for Master Transmuter and can be retrieved with Trinket Mage. Tezzeret the Seeker is some-good, allowing us to put our Iron Maiden or Temple Bell win conditions from our library directly onto the battlefield. Finally, there is Ring of Three Wishes. While the Ring is a bit slow in terms of the mana required to activate, it is easily one of our most valuable assets allowing us to get any card from our library. Being able to fetch all of our combo pieces and/or a counterspell to protect our board should not be underrated, especially if we have our pillow fort established giving us the extra time to use our 3 wishes.
Once our plan of attack begins to take shape, it is time to drop the anchor on the Weatherlight and hold our position on the board. Our main form of protection comes in the form of counterspells. With our raw drawing engines, Forbid can be a late game all-star countering threats and coming back to our hand at the cost of two cards. Force of Will is arguably the best counterspell of all time and is money. By “money” I mean it in both the slang definition of being amazing in our deck and the fact that it has at least a $75 price tag if you try to pick one up at your local game store. Our counterspell suite ends with Muddle the Mixture which can counter an instant or sorcery for . Muddle doubles in utility valuable by having a transmute ability that will help us tutor for Cyclonic Rift or any other two casting cost card we may need at the time.
Occasionally we will have a need for spot removal so that we can remove a wrench that our opponents may have thrown into our plans. For creature removal we have Duplicant and for artifact/enchantment hate we have Aura of Silence and Seal of Cleansing What makes these three choices of removal even better in this deck is the fact that Hanna can use her ability to bring them from our graveyard to our hand so we can reuse them.
With only a small amount of creatures in this deck, there will be times that we need to wipe the board. Magic icon Wrath of God is an obvious choice that is easy to cast and prevents regeneration. Supreme Verdict destroys all creatures and cannot be countered, making it an obvious choice when we face blue control. Finally there is Nevinyrral’s Disk. Sure it may also destroy our artifacts and enchantments too, but that is why Hanna, Ship’s Navigator is our commander, so we can get them out of our graveyard when the time arrises. Better yet, activating Nevy’s Disk when we have Blightsteel Colossus in play could mean death by poison counters as Blightsteel begins to “one-shot”our opponents.
Ramp & Rocks
As with most EDH decks, there is usually a mana ramp/rock package and Hanna is no different. Solemn Simulacrum grabs a basic Island or Plains when he enters the battlefield and then nets us an extra card if/when he goes to the graveyard. During times of “durdle”, we could sacrifice Solemn (aka Sad Robot) to Phyrexia’s Core and then bring him back to our hand with Hanna. Mana Vault, Sol Ring, Azorius Signet, Darksteel Ingot and Thran Dynamo are also included here, but not for any special reasons so let’s move on, shall we?
By the time you have reached this point in my Hanna EDH Primer, I am sure that I have used up about all of your attention span. I definitely understand, therefore, I will make this section on lands fairly quick. From the decklist, you can see that a couple of fetch lands are important to mana fix, as are any land that can tap for Blue or White (such as Hallowed Fountain). And now, for the Primer Speed Round!
- Artifact Lands Seat of the Synod and Ancient Den work well with Master Transmuter and are recurrable with Hanna.
- Serra’s Sanctum, as mentioned before, will fuel our Draw Spells when combined with Enchanted Evening.
- Academy Ruin and Buried Ruin for extra graveyard recursion.
- Phyrexia’s Core to Sacrifice Artifacts in response to exile or steal effects.
- Tolaria West mainly to Transmute into Claws of Gix or other utility land such as Serra’s Sanctum
- Kor Haven for Defense
- Man Lands are cool so here is Celestial Colonnade
- Blue White Staples Halimar Depths and Flagstones of Trokair
- Finally there is Reliquary Tower to fuel Forbid and because we plan on drawing a lot of cards
Weaknesses of this Deck
The main nemesis for this deck is Aura Shards. Even with Hanna being able to return artifacts and enchantments from our graveyard to our hands, Aura Shards just wreaks havoc on our game plan. We must do whatever we can to keep Aura Shards off of the table. Other weaknesses include fast aggro decks that get to us before we can establish a pillow fort and other blue control builds that counter our main draw or bounce spells.
Besides instants and sorceries, there are only two cards that we cannot get back if we lose them during a game: Azor’s Elocutors and Aura Thief. Since both of these creatures are involved in our alternate win condition strategy it is best not to cast them until we are able to protect their presence on the battlefield.
Hanna Combos Currently NOT Included
Win Conditions that are NOT currently included in Hanna, Ship’s Navigator EDH::
- Tunnel Vision + Hinder + Spell Crumple + Proteus Staff. I want to use this, but it only hits opponent, and I play multiplayer.
- Parallax Wave / Parallax Tide to Combo with Claws of Gix. For some reason I have a hard time explaining to my friends how this combo works, therefore, I opted for the ones above.
- Web of Inertia + Tormod’s Crypt for more Pillow Fort action.
- Stuffy Doll + Guilty Conscience. This is a recent removal. I have never won with this combo and have temporarily replaced it with Minds Aglow and Otherworld Atlas
Background Story of Hanna, Ship’s Navigator
For your reading enjoyment, here are two links exploring our favorite blonde navigator:
Hanna, Ship’s Navigator – the Girl Next Door?: Terese Nielsen writes in her blog her experiences drawing Hanna Ship’s Navigator for the Invasion Block card Fact or Fiction as well as the new Alternate Art featured in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013.
BackStory of Hanna, Ship’s Navigator on MTGSalvation Wiki.
I hope you have enjoyed my Hanna, Ship’s Navigator EDH Primer – Strategy Guide. I did not intend for this article to be this long, but I tried to include every important detail on this rather complex blue/white pillow fort/combo EDH deck. I am always interested in feedback so please leave your questions, thoughts or comments in the section below!